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Jordanian Air Force to get back first AT-802 Border Patrol Aircraft after upgrading to Block 4 standard.

| 2022

According to a tweet posted by Gareth Jennings on October 21, the Royal Jordanian Air Force will get back the first of 6 Air Tractor AT-802 Block 2 Border Patrol Aircraft aircraft that are being upgraded to the latest Block 4 standard.

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Jordanian Air Force to get back first AT 802 Border Patrol Aircraft after upgrading to Block 4 standard 1 Air Tractor AT-802 at Block 1 standard and in UAE service, prior to being donated to Jordan in 2013 (Picture source: Twitter account of Gareth Jennings)

The Air Tractor AT-802 is an American agricultural aircraft that may also be adapted into fire-fighting or armed versions. It first flew in the United States in October 1990 and is manufactured by Air Tractor Inc. The AT-802 carries a chemical hopper between the engine firewall and the cockpit. In the U.S., it is considered a Type III SEAT, or Single Engine Air Tanker.

In response to the U.S. Air Force's LAAR program and the growing requirement for light counter-insurgency aircraft, Air Tractor developed an armed model, the AT-802U, in 2008, with engine and cockpit armor, a bulletproof windscreen, self-sealing fuel tanks, and structural reinforcements for the carriage of 9,000 pounds (4,100 kg) of payload. A reinforced wing spar was certified for 12,000 hours of flight time, and the AT-802U was displayed in 2009 at the Paris Air Show.

The AT-802 has been used in counter-drug operations in the USSOUTHCOM AOR by the U.S. Department of State as a delivery vehicle for herbicides and defoliants over narcotics production facilities.

Ten AT-802i were converted by Iomax USA into an armed configuration with Roketsan Cirit 2.75" rockets and guided bombs for the UAE Air Force. The UAE operated them until November 2015 when they were replaced by the first three of 24 Archangels on order from Iomax. The Archangel is based on a similar cropduster airframe to that of the Thrush Model 660, but to create the Archangel the basic Model 660 undergoes a much more extensive rebuild in the course of its militarization. Six of the UAE AT-802i were transferred to the Jordanian Air Force with a further three being transferred to the Yemeni Government Forces where they have been used in the 2015 Yemeni Civil War. Reports place Emirati aircraft in Libya flown by contract pilots.

In January 2017, the US State Department approved a deal for twelve AT-802 aircraft for the Kenya Defence Forces, although as of June 2017 a contract for the proposed sale had not been signed.

On 1 August 2022, United States Special Operations Command indicated they would purchase up to 75 AT-802U Sky Warden aircraft to support special operations forces in fighting irregular wars. Air Tractor will manufacture the airframes and L3Harris will then modify them into the Armed Overwatch mission configuration. The planes are intended to perform armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions at low cost in permissive environments from austere locations, and will allow SOCOM to remove the aging U-28A Draco from combat service. The Sky Warden can deploy guided weapons including the APKWS rocket, GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, and Hellfire and Griffin missiles; it has a six-hour loiter time at a 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) radius. The initial contract is for $170 million, with a ceiling of $3 billion for the purchase of the full fleet. The plan is for five squadrons of 15 planes, one deployed at a time, three undergoing maintenance, and one for training. Initial service entry is expected in 2026, with all delivered and full operating capability reached in 2029.

Jordanian Air Force to get back first AT 802 Border Patrol Aircraft after upgrading to Block 4 standard 2 Royal Jordanian Air Force Air Tractor AT-802 RJ2551 at Malta International Airport on March 10, 2022 (Picture source: Aiden Lee Briffa)

Jordanian Air Force to get back first AT 802 Border Patrol Aircraft after upgrading to Block 4 standard 3 American Tractor AT-802L Longsword at Paris Air Show 2017 (Picture source: Marc Lacoste/Wikipedia)

Jordanian Air Force to get back first AT 802 Border Patrol Aircraft after upgrading to Block 4 standard 6 Iomax Archangel. Based on the Air Tractor AT-802, the Archangel is specially equipped for counterinsurgency warfare. Capable of deploying 4,000kg in various air-to-ground munitions, including precision-guided bombs, it is being marketed as an affordable and durable COIN asset (Picture source: Iomax)

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